Unless I am musing something, of the $10,400 you have on hand, a good chunk if not all (approximately $5,400) will be paid for supplies and books rather soon. Monies for supplies and books are typically disbursed at the start of the semester in which they will be used.
This leaves you with a $5,000 savings, plus some other small amount. You have correctly mentioned the unused Homestead Exemption and the Wildcard. This would be a proper way to keep your savings exempt from liquidation.
You can turn some non-exempt assets to exempt assets ("exemption planning"). Every case is different, and you should sit down with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your case at length.
If you like, feel free to call me, and we can speak. I do not charge a consultation fee to consumers for the first consultation.
*Any information provided is for information only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the above information. No attorney-client relationship is formed.
There is likely not a way to protect the full amount. You can probably protect about half.
In these type situations you should hire your lawyer now, and that way you can properly plan when to buy books, pay tution/etc. and file.
Feel free to contact my office at 404-768-3509.
You are correct in stating that the Georgia bankruptcy exemption statute permits you to retain up to $5,600.00 in cash in your checking account through the wildcard exemption. However, this may impact your ability to exempt other assets. I will be glad to discuss your case with you. Feel free to call me at 770-432-0547,